Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, Louise O’Reilly TD, welcomed the improvements made to the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme by government, but said additional structural improvements are necessary.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“For several weeks, we have been telling government that the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) scheme was failing SMEs and microbusinesses, in particular the interlinked problems caused by the qualifying threshold being too high and the relief too low.
“As a result, SMEs and microbusiness struggled to access the scheme.
“This is evidenced by the fact that as of February 17 only €38m in relief was issued to businesses from a €1.2bn support scheme.
“Thankfully, the government has brought forward welcome changes in line with what Sinn Féin and others have been calling for.
“The lowering of the threshold and increasing of the relief rates, as well as raising the payment limits, will ensure that the support fund achieves its aim of providing much needed assistance to SMEs and microbusinesses struggling with energy costs.
“However, there are additional structural issues which also need to be addressed.
“Businesses have stated that the application process is too convoluted, with guidelines explaining the scheme running to over 100 pages and the process itself taking hours, and often necessitates paying for an account.
“These structural difficulties have not been addressed, and I would implore the Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment to speak to small businesses as well as business groups like ISME, the Family Business Network, and the Small Firms Association about how the process can be simplified and shortened.
“We also welcome the commitment given by government to investigate how SMEs and microbusinesses who rely on kerosene oil and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) can be included in the TBESS scheme.
“These are improvements which Sinn Féin has been calling for since the scheme went live, and they would make a significant difference for many businesses around the state.”